5 Star Bundt Cake

5 Star Bundt Cake

This cake recipe is one of our favorites and has been for many years.  It is simple, quick and delicious.  Baking this cake in a bundt pan makes it look a little fancy, which makes it perfect for family gatherings, events or bake sales!

We use cherry pie filling, but any type of pie filling would work well, so you can change the recipe to your liking!

5 Star Bundt Cake

5 Star Bundt Cake

5 Star Bundt Cake

5 Star Bundt Cake

5 Star Bundt Cake

Hope you enjoy this recipe!  If you don’t have a bundt pan, you should be able to find one at a thrift store.  Otherwise, any type of pan will work.

BENEFITS:

  • Baking something delicious for your family and friends
  • Having control over what goes into your recipe
  • Having fun with a “fancy” cake
  • Saving money

I can’t say I have ever found a bundt cake for sale at a bakery, but specialty cakes can easily cost $30.00.  This cake is generally about $7.00.  Cheaper if pie filling is on sale!  (Or if you make pie filling yourself!)

MONEY SAVED:  $23.00!!

🙂

3 Delicious $5.00 Cakes

3 Delicious $5.00 Cakes

If you love cake, you will love these delicious cake recipes.  They are seriously the best cakes I have ever made!

Baking a “from scratch” cake is always a very satisfying process for me.  It’s like alchemy; assembling the ingredients, gently stirring them together, smelling the spices, then watching them transform into mouth-watering creations.  I even love greasing and flouring the pans, which was my job when I was a child, baking with my mother.

I call these $5.00 cakes, because I take for granted having the “staples” of flour, eggs and butter on hand. LOL

I can vouch for two of the three cakes being outstanding!!  Haven’t gotten around to the Raspberry-Laced Vanilla Cake yet, but I hope someone can tell me how it tastes. 🙂

3 Delicious $5.00 Cakes

3 Delicious $5.00 Cakes

3 Delicious $5.00 Cakes

BENEFITS:

  • Saving money
  • Having fantastic recipes for bake sales and benefits
  • Special “baking time” with family
  • Learning or teaching baking skills
  • Delicious cakes to eat!!

Store bought cakes are very expensive.  A triple layer cake can easily cost $40.00 +.  Baking from scratch, cakes cost around $5.00 each (give or take a little).

MONEY SAVED:  On these 3 cakes: $105.00!

🙂

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins

Recently, our local grocery store had a nice sale on strawberries; two pints for $3.00.  Heck of a deal!  A great time to make jam and freeze berries for later use.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t in need of jam or frozen strawberries, but I did need some fresh berries to compliment the rhubarb harvest I had in the freezer. 🙂

Fast forward to the kitchen and having everything ready for a delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb pie, when I realize I have way too much filling.  I prefer fresh pie, so I don’t want to make an extra to put in the freezer.   What to do?

Make Strawberry-Rhubarb muffins, of course!

I had never made these before and just used another berry muffin recipe, that I tweaked a bit.  I think you’ll want to try them.  They were amazingly delicious!!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 cup milk

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

4 teas baking powder

berries

Beat egg.  Add oil and milk.  Beat well.  Add dry ingredients and stir until blended.  Fold in the berries.

(I tweaked this recipe by reducing the milk to 3/4 cup and adding 1/2 cup sour cream)

BENEFITS:

  • Buying something to compliment what you already have
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb yumminess
  • Homemade desserts
  • No preservatives
  • Saving money

We ended up with a pie, 6 jumbo muffins and a small loaf.   A pie would cost an average of $10.00, jumbo muffins are $1.40 each and a small loaf is about $4.00, for a total of $22.40.  My strawberries cost $3.00, I grew my own rhubarb, and the flour, sugar, etc cost about $2.00.

MONEY SAVED: $17.40!!

🙂

Spiced Grape Syrup

Spiced Grape Syrup Recipe

Valiant grapes are delicious, small grapes that work well for jellies, jams and syrups.

As I was out taking propagation cuttings from my main plant, it reminded me that I wanted to share a wonderful recipe I use for pancake syrup!

When we harvest the grapes, I boil them for 15 minutes, in a large pot, with a small amount of water.  When they are soft, I put them through a canning sieve to remove seeds and skins.  From there, I either continue on to the recipe, or stick the juice in the freezer for later use.  (Sometimes, I do that just so I have something fun to can in the winter!)

Spiced Grape Syrup

Spiced Grape Syrup

Measure juice and bring to a boil.  For each cup of juice, add 3/4 cup sugar.  Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 1/2 tsp ground allspice to every 3 cups or juice, or to taste.  Boil rapidly to syrup stage.  Pour into sterilized canning jars and continue with safe canning practices.

This recipe is a family favorite!  We pick the grapes together, can them together and enjoy the syrup together!  How much better can it get?

BENEFITS:

  • Growing your own fruit
  • Making home made syrup you won’t find in stores
  • Great items for gifts
  • Satisfaction of being involved in every step of the process

The plant originally cost me about $5.00.  (I have propagated many plants from it, which I have shared with family and used to expand my own crop.)  Specialty syrups in the stores are $8.00 for 8 ounces. (1/2 pint)   Every year we get at least 12 pints!

MONEY SAVED:  $192.00!!

🙂

Christmas Cookie Recipes

Our Three Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes

We make a bunch of different cookies and breads for Christmas, but there are three that seem to be all-time favorites:  Spritz, Neapolitan, and Gumdrop.

I wanted to share these recipes and a couple quick tips we’ve found helpful over the years.

SPRITZ

1 cup softened butter

2/3 cups sugar

3 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

2  ½ cups flour

Mix butter and sugar together until creamy.  Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix well.  Add flour and stir by hand.  Load dough into a cookie press and press cookies onto a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes or until very lightly browned on the bottom.

Christmas Cookie Recipes

We found a short-cut!  Instead of using a cookie press, we rolled the cookies into balls and pressed them with decorative bowls that have beautiful patterns!  We found these at a thrift store.  The bowls can also be used for dips, candy or nuts.

Christmas Cookie Recipes

 

Neapolitan Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

5 drops red food coloring

1 /2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1 sq baking chocolate

Melt chocolate, then cool to room temperature.  Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl and set aside.  In medium bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat just until combined.  Slowly add flour mixture until combined.  Slowly add flour mixture, beating on medium speed until combined.  Line a 9″ by 5″ loaf pan with waxed paper, allowing ends to hang over the sides.  Divide dough in to three portions.  To 1 portion, add almond extract and red food coloring and mix well; pat into the bottom of the loaf pan.  To 2nd portion, add nut meats and mix well.  Pat on top of pink layer.  To 3rd portion, add melted chocolate and mix well.  Pat onto nut layer.  Cover and chill at least 4 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice.  Remove dough from pan by lifting the waxed paper.  Cut dough in half,lengthwise, then slice each half crosswise into 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick sliced.  Place cookies 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.  Leave cookies on the cookie sheet for 1 minute before removing to a cooling rack.

Christmas Cookie Recipes

This year we rolled the dough into long ropes instead of patting it into a loaf pan.  We were happy with the results!

 

Gumdrop Cookies

1 cup of butter

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

2 cups spiced gum drops – cut

Cut gumdrops into fourths, using flour and a sharp knife. Creamer butter and sugar well.  Blend in egg and vanilla.  Add flour and mix well.  Stir in gumdrops.  Divide dough into thirds, roll into 10″ ropes and wrap in waxed paper.  Chill at least 3 hours.  Cut 1/8″ slices and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 12 minutes or  until delicately browned on the edges.

Christmas Cookie Recipes

As you may have noticed, we use old cookie tins to store and display our cookies for Christmas.  They are colorful, Christmas-y, and keep the cookies fresh and safe!  (Safe, as in the dogs can’t open them)  We find our old tins at thrift stores and rummage sales.

Hope you try the recipes and enjoy them!

🙂

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Fall makes me think of soup and what better way to make homemade soup, than to start with some homemade broth?

Vegetable broth can be used in soup, casserole, chili, or even as a broth over meat you’re doing in the crock pot to add a depth to the flavor.

Marie’s Vegetable Broth

3 medium onions

3 carrots

2 stalks of celery

3 medium russet potatoes

 

In a large pan, place 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Dice all vegetables and add to warm pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Saute all vegetables until onions are translucent.

Marie's Homemade Vegetable Broth

 

Transfer vegetables to a slow cooker.

Marie's Homemade Vegetable Broth

 

Add water to the rim.  Add more salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 24 hours.

Marie's Homemade Vegetable Broth

At the end of 24 hours, you should have a rich broth.  I like to either mash or emulsify the vegetables and leave them in the broth.  Why waste the nutrients?

Now you have some homemade vegetable broth to enjoy!   I freeze mine in 2-3 cup portions.  Sometimes, I will also use the large muffin tins to freeze broth.  They measure about 3/4 cup, but it’s easy to freeze them in the tins and then transfer them to a freezer bag.  This is especially helpful if you only need a small amount!

Hope you’ll make some veggie broth and please comment on how you make your own!

BENEFITS:

  • Homemade always tastes better than store bought
  • No preservatives
  • Fun using the veggies you’ve grown
  • Great way to make your veggies stretch a little farther

I made 4 quarts of broth with onions, potatoes, carrots and celery that cost me $3.75.  (If you grew your own, the cost would be minimal!)  Store bought vegetable broth is about $2.50 per quart or $10.00.

MONEY SAVED:  $6.25!!

🙂

Left-overs

My Four Meal Continuum

I hate throwing food away.

Left-overs should be reheated, frozen or used as part of a new meal.

The last option is what I’m focusing on this time; using left-overs as part of a new meal and adding just a couple of items in order to use everything.

(This isn’t the healthiest example, but it sure was delicious!) 😉

It started out like this:

Meal # 1:   Tacos.  I made a pound of taco meat. (Since I had all the ingredients for tacos, there was no additional money was spent.)  A pound of meat was way too much, so I froze half of it, like I discussed in Saving Money With Big Batch Cooking and Baking.   What didn’t go into the freezer, I put in the fridge and the next night, we had…

Meal #2:  Nachos.   We made a big plate of Nachos Supreme with cheese, taco meat, onions, and peppers.  I bought some nacho cheese and chips. ($5.00)  Now on to…

Meal #3:  Nachos again.  Because Nachos Supreme is that good!  But, we still have chips left.  So…

Meal #4:  Chips and hot sauce.  Bought hot sauce ($3.00)  This is more of a snack than a meal, but we love chips and hot sauce and it’s a good way to use up those chips!  Any hot sauce that’s left over can be added to a chili or soup recipe.

There you have it!  For an additional $8.00, we had 3 extra meals for 2 people.  Those extra meals cost us just $1.33 per person.  Plus, we didn’t waste anything!

BENEFITS:

  • Using left-overs in a delicious way
  • Not wasting any food
  • Using food money wisely

Assuming that the average home cooked meal is around $5.00 per person, we were able to stretch those dollars and save some money!  (3 meals x $5.00 per meal = $15.00 x 2 people = $30.00.)  / (3 meals x $1.33 per meal = $3.99 x 2 people = $7.98.)

MONEY SAVED:  $22.02!!

🙂

 

Vintage Cooker

Save Money With Big Batch Cooking and Baking

On the practical side of cooking and baking, it just makes sense to do big batches.

You’ll have a messy kitchen to clean up either way, so why not double or triple the recipe and end up with enough left-overs to put in the freezer for those busy days when you don’t have time to cook a meal?

Vintage Cooker

My trusty, vintage Westinghouse cooker

One advantage of big batch cooking is taking advantage of good sales.  Especially good sales on meat, which can save you a ton of money.

Another advantage of having quick meals in the freezer, is that it re-routes that urge to stop for fast food!

We have a few favorite “big batch” meals that always freeze well and taste just as good out of the freezer as they do the day they’re made.  (Sometimes, better)

Our list includes: chili, spaghetti sauce, soup, broth, beef burgundy, and lasagne.

We also love our baked goods, so those big batches include: cookies, pies, muffins, and breads.

Whatever your family favorites are, they can probably be made in a large batch and frozen.

Speaking of favorites, I’ll share our favorite spaghetti sauce recipe.  I’ve never found a better one!  This is the recipe that I will make in triple batches and cook in that nice, vintage cooker pictured above.

Favorite Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

And for big batch baking, I will share the link to our delicious: Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

My Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

BENEFITS:

  • Having ready made meals in the freezer
  • Taking advantage of sales on ingredients
  • Cooking once, enjoying many times
  • Home cooked, quick meals instead of fast food

The average American spends $1200.00 per year on fast food.   Let’s be conservative and say that the ingredients for these quick freezer meals would cost half that amount.

MONEY SAVED:  $600.00!!

🙂

Pear Butter Recipe

Yummy Pear Butter Recipe

When the pears show up in lugs in the grocery store, it signals to me that Autumn is coming near!

Pear Butter Recipe

Besides eating as many pears as we’re able, I always can fresh pears.  We enjoy having them in the winter with comfort food type meals.

After I have canned all the pears I want for the winter, the rest are designated for  Pear Butter.  I love pear butter and will flatly state that it’s far better than apple butter.  Just to prove it, I will share my Pear Butter Recipe!

Pear Butter Recipe

Wash, slice and cut out stem and seeds from the pears.

Put into large pot and cook in a small amount of water.  (I use whatever left-over syrup I have from canning the pears)

Cook until mushy and then put through a sieve to get the pulp.  Throw the skins into the compost.

To each cup of pulp, but 1/2 cup sugar.  Add some cinnamon to taste and some pumpkin pie spice (because…why not?)  Cook until thick.  Can the butter according to safe guidelines.  http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html

This recipe is great on toast, waffles, ice cream or straight from the jar!

Hope you enjoy!

BENEFITS:

  • The joy of canning 🙂
  • Making a fruit butter without preservatives
  • Making enough to have extra for gift giving
  • Enjoying the wonderful taste of pear butter in the middle of winter

Most fruit butters are $5.00 per pint.  A lug of pear is $10.00, plus about $3.00 for sugar will give you about 14 pints of butter!

MONEY SAVED: $57.00!!!

🙂

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

The Secret to Delicious Meatballs

I finally learned the secret of delicious meatballs!  I have the recipe and directions!!

Meatballs are a very versatile item to have in the freezer.  They can be tossed into casseroles, made into Italian meatballs subs, or my favorite…Sweet and Sour Meatballs!!

Best of all, I finally learned how to make tender, juicy meatballs with a recipe that’s large enough to have lots left over for another meal (or two)!

My recipe is very basic, but you can add whatever spices you want to change the flavor according to how you are going to use them.  Love how meatballs are so versatile!

Baked Meatball Recipe

3 pounds ground beef

2 eggs

1 – 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (your own of course)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped onions or onion powder (optional)

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

Mix all ingredients by hand until mixed well.  Gently form balls about 1″ across.  Place on a jelly roll pan that has been lined with aluminum foil.  Bake for about 1/2 hour.  Test to make sure they are done.  That’s it!!

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

Forming loosely packed meatballs keeps them tender and baking them makes them juicy!  They will melt in your mouth!

Whatever is left after your meal can be taken off the aluminum foil and placed directly on the jelly roll pan and popped into the freezer.

Mouth-Watering Meatballs

The meatballs will freeze separately and you can transfer them to a freezer bag and take as many as you need the next time you want meatballs!  Easy peasy!

BENEFITS:

  • Homemade meatballs that you can season as you like
  • Easy meals that are waiting in the freezer
  • Saving money

Bags of ready to eat meatballs average $20.00 for three pounds.  On sale, I can buy hamburger for $1.99 / pound, plus a little extra for bread crumbs, eggs and onions.  If we eat a meatball meal once a month, that’s a savings of about $17.50 per month, x 12 months = $210.00 annually.

MONEY SAVED:  $210.00!!

🙂